After a week of being sick and missing my daily walks, I returned to my walkabout this afternoon. My feet felt so good walking out on the land again, I could feel her energy rising right up through the pavement and asphalt. I missed the last days of leaf-fall, as most of the trees are barren of their colorful leaves now, although I did witness the change on a small scale through the maple in my backyard. The oaks still have their voices though, rustling their dried brown leaves they hold through the winter. Could this be part of the idea behind the druidic notion of ‘oak wisdom’ perhaps? This holding on to one’s song even through death and darkness, until life returns again?
Juncos and chickadees were heard or spied, or both, along with crows, who have more varied calls than I’d realized. One squirrel worked several tactics to get me to move on from the cluster of oaks with whom I was communing; I had probably interrupted his foraging expedition. First he held still and watchful, then he turned towards me and glared while shaking his tail at me, turning about for full effect. Then he slipped down between the fences and hid, after which I finally moved on to give him his space. I peeked behind me, and there he was up top again, cackling at me; I could just hear him retorting, “And don’t come back!” Robins didn’t seem to be out today.
I also had not prayed my Celtic Mandala prayer this past week, being tied as it is to my daily contemplative walk. I began my prayer as I stepped outdoors, and then faltered for a bit, not yet feeling the guiding imbas to shape the prayer as it needed to be expressed in that moment. I shrugged and fell back in reciting an early version of it, but as I moved through it, imbas found me after all, and pulled me back to the start. I opened fully to imbas, and began again. Here I was guided into a matured iteration of the prayer, which felt deep and true, speaking to the Service that is held in such high regard in Druidry. And I prayed:
“Hail east, direction of Stone, power of the mountains of the land and bones of my body. May I bring your power of strength to the world this day.
“Hail south, direction of Sun, power of summer’s warmth and of my countenance. May I bring your light and beauty to the world this day.
“Hail west, direction of Sea, power of the waters of the land and the blood of my body. May I bring your nourishment to the world this day.
“Hail north, direction of Wind, power of winter’s chill and the breath of my body. May I bring your vitality and refreshment to the world this day
“Hail, below me, direction of Earth, power of the land and of the flesh of my body. May I bring your grace to the world this day.
“Hail above me, direction of Cloud, power of life-giving rain and the thoughts in my hear. May I bring your greening to the world this day.
“Hail within, to the center, direction of indwelling Spirit, power of all blessings. May I bring your inspiration to the world this day.
“Mar a bha, mar a tha, mar a bhitheas gu brath. Moran taing, agus slàinte mhath.”
I marveled at how imbas had inspired and guided me. I marveled again at how it has lead me all along, from the creation of this prayer from one idea and one MSS passage, to asking for blessings upon each element both within and without me, to asking for each element to grace me with its qualities, to asking that I bring each element’s qualities into the world, that I seek to embody and channel them and give them to the world. This prayer has birthed, moved, and matured through me through the power of imbas, inspiring me each day I keep to the practice, and visible, notable growth has occurred. As the prayer has developed and grown, so have I.
Imbas in Druidry is individually and personally felt and expressed, and so is Service individually and personally rendered in ways which fit each person. I appreciate one form of service being the striving to not only develop certain qualities within oneself, but to strive to share them, give them to the world, to express the powers of the elements as gifts which may be given to benefit and strengthen the All.
In her writings about inspiration, or awen as she and Druidry call it, Emma Restall Orr talks about druids both sipping from the Well of Inspiration, and contributing to it. I like this idea of such an exchange, that while a song or a poem might seem intangible, while a musing or a realization or a beautifully-turned phrase might seem fleeting, they are in themselves their own ambrosia- they are food for the soul. And while I express the imbas/awen of my soul, that in turn can feed others through inspiring them in some way, and so I in turn both drink from and feed this Well of Inspiration from which the poets sip. And in turn, it is this Well I seek when reading prose or poetry or myth or song- I sit at its banks, sipping its clear waters, tasting for inspiration in every draft. Then, when once inspired, I may create from that inspiration, which, once shared, feeds the Well anew, maintaining its balance, and its presence, for others. I hope that this is one service which this blog renders- may it feed the Well of Inspiration by somehow inspiring others. For it is truly on inspiration that the spirit feeds and grows!